FAQ: Technology

 

What are the technical requirements for viewing MIT OpenCourseWare course materials?

I have downloaded an MIT OpenCourseWare course, but I can't access the materials. How do I get started?

Is it possible to save the video files to a disk or to my hard drive?

How do I see the subtitles on the videos that are marked "STREAMING VIDEOS WITH SUBTITLES"?

Is the MIT OpenCourseWare site compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?

What information does MIT OpenCourseWare collect from visitors to the site?

What technology is used to publish the MIT OpenCourseWare site?

How does OCW create video and audio lectures?

Why are most audio/video files only available in Real Media? What about open source formats?

Are these files available on iTunes or YouTube?

Why can't I see equations in some courses?

 

What are the technical requirements for viewing MIT OpenCourseWare course materials?

To best view and use the site, MIT OpenCourseWare has adopted the following guidelines:

  • Our site works on the Macintosh, Unix, and Windows platforms.
  • Although higher-speed connections are preferable, slower connections, such as 28.8 kbps modems, should allow users to view most materials on the sites; however, downloading materials will take a longer period of time.
  • MIT OpenCourseWare has tested the site with the following browsers:
    • Internet Explorer 7.0+ (Windows)
    • Safari 5.0+ (Mac OSX)
    • Firefox 3.5+ (all platforms)
  • Some special content file types require specialize software to use; an extensive list is included on the MIT OpenCourseWare Technical Requirements page.

 

I have downloaded an MIT OpenCourseWare course, but I can't access the materials. How do I get started?

Zip files contain the same content as the online version. They allow you to review OCW materials on your computer even when you're not online.

  1. Unzip the course packaging with decompression software such as WinZip or Stuffit. Windows will let you browse into a Zip file without unzipping, but the links will not work.
  2. The file called imsmanifest.xml is used in packaging and in some external systems; you do not need to access this file when browsing your course.
  3. Start by opening the course folder (for example: 3-093Fall-2006).
  4. Inside this folder is a file called START.htm. Double-click this file to begin using your downloaded course.

Please note that audio, video, and some other special files are not included in the download zip package in order to keep these files a manageable size. You can download these files through links provided in the course. Some audio and video lectures are also available through MIT's iTunes U and YouTube sites.

 

Is it possible to save the video files to a disk or to my hard drive?

YouTube
Some of our videos are available on YouTube in Flash streaming format. Download is not available for these files. To see the complete collection, visit http://youtube.com/mit.

iTunes U
Links to our videos on iTunes U require Apple's free iTunes application. If you have this application, these links will automatically open it. Once you have iTunes open, you can download a single lecture by selecting "Get Movie," or the entire course by selecting "Get Tracks." Once you've downloaded these lectures, iTunes will automatically add it to your library.

Internet Archive
Some OCW videos are available on Internet Archive as both MP4 and Real Media files. To download these, right+click on the link (MP4 or RM) and select "Save Link As." To watch MP4 files, you need QuickTime. Real Media files require Real Player.

RealMedia Files Only
Over time, we will replace streaming Real Media links across the site with the formats mentioned above. In the meantime, if the URL looks like http://mfile.akamai.com/7870/rm/mitstorage.download.akamai.com/ 7870/18/18.06/videolectures/strang-1806-lec01-26aug1999-220k.rm, you can download using these instructions:

  • You can find the URL for the video you want by right-clicking on the link and selecting "Copy Link Location…" (ctrl-click on a Mac).
  • Remove the entire first part of the URL:
    http://mfile.akamai.com/7870/rm/mitstorage.download.akamai.com/7870
  • Add http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870 instead. This will be the link to download the RealMedia file. It will look something like this:
    http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/18/18.06/videolectures/strang-1806-lec01-26aug1999-220k.rm
  • Make sure you Save the file to a convenient location like your Documents or Video folder.

 

RealMedia with Supporting Files
For videos with captions and/or indices that have URLs that end in .ram, e.g. http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/hs/physics/8.01/8.01-f99-vl6.ram, you will need these additional instructions.

  • You can find the URLs for the video and supporting files you want by right-clicking on the link and selecting "Save Link As…" (ctrl-click on a Mac).
  • Open the .ram file in a text editor. It is a plain text file so any text editor will do.
  • Copy and paste the URL in the file into your browser to download the file. It will look something like http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/hs/physics/8.01/8.01-f99-vl6.smil
  • Open the .smil file in a text editor. It is a plain text file so any text editor will do.
  • To only copy the video, look for a tag like this: <video src="http://mfile.akamai.com/7870/rm/mitstorage.download.akamai.com/7870/
    hs/physics/8.01/wl99lec6-300k.rm" region="video_region" fill="remove"> and use the instructions above to download the video file with the URL listed in this tag.
  • If you want the rest of the supporting files. Copy and paste each one of the URLs from every src element from the .smil file into the browser to download them.
  • To playback the files with all the supporting files, you must change the src URLs in the .smil file. The easiest way to do this is to make sure all the files are in the same folder and to delete everything of the path except for the filenames to make the paths local, e.g.

    <textstream id="index" src="http://ocw.mit.edu/ans7870/hs/physics/8.01/8.01-f99-vl6-caption.rt" region="caption_region" systemCaptions="on"/>

    becomes

    <textstream id="index" src="8.01-f99-vl6-caption.rt" region="caption_region" systemCaptions="on"/>

 

How do I see the subtitles on the videos that are marked “STREAMING VIDEOS WITH SUBTITLES”?

Make sure captions are turned on in Real Player. Launch Real Player, go to Tools/Preferences, choose the Content category from the list on the left of the new window and make sure there is a check next to "Use supplemental text captioning when available." under Accessibility and click OK. (RealPlayer/Preferences/Content on the Mac.). You must then quit and relaunch Real Player for the setting to take effect.

 

Is the MIT OpenCourseWare site compliant with W3C standards and accessibility requirements?

The templates we designed for our content management system (CMS) are both valid HTML 4.01 and meet Sec. 508 & WCAG AA Web Accessibility recommendations. Our style guide has been revised to include validating and checking the accessibility of HTML as part of the authoring process. Our standards require all images to contain ALT attributes. Our data tables contain heavy use of the scope and headers attributes that make it easier to navigate using screenreaders such as JAWS.

We spend a lot of time on the accessibility of PDFs. As part of our conversion process we remove any PDFs using Type 3 or bitmapped fonts. We use Adobe's "Make Accessible" plugin before finalizing the document. We work closely with the MIT Adaptive Technology for Information and Computing Lab to ensure that the MIT OpenCourseWare course sites are as accessible as possible.

As resources permit, we create transcripts and subtitles for our lecture videos. Approximately half of our lecture videos now contain transcripts. These are identified on each course home page under "Course Features."

 

What information does MIT OpenCourseWare collect from visitors to the site?

The information we collect from visitors helps us improve the MIT OpenCourseWare site, and assists us in evaluating the access, use, and impact of MIT OpenCourseWare on the worldwide educational community. MIT OpenCourseWare collects the following information from visitors:

  • Information You Provide: We receive and store any information you enter on the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site or give us in any other way. You provide most such information when you submit feedback on the site, contact us by e-mail, or agree to participate in a visitor survey. This information may include your name and e-mail address, your academic status, your institution, your geographic region, how you are using MIT OpenCourseWare, and what you think of the site. In all cases, any information you provide is strictly optional and voluntary, and you may choose to use the MIT OpenCourseWare site without ever providing this information. If you voluntarily provide your e-mail address or other contact information, we will not share personal information with anyone without first requesting your explicit permission to do so.
  • Automatic Information: We receive and store certain types of information whenever you interact with the MIT OpenCourseWare site. Like many web sites, we make use of "cookies," and we obtain certain types of information when your browser accesses our site. Examples of the information we collect and analyze include the Internet protocol (IP) address used to connect your computer to the MIT OpenCourseWare site; computer and connection information such as browser type and version, operating system, and platform, and; content you viewed or searched for during your visit to MIT OpenCourseWare. During some visits we may use software tools to measure and collect session information, including page response times, download errors, and length of visits to certain pages. If your browser is configured to not accept cookies, you will still enjoy full access to all MIT OpenCourseWare content. However, none of this information is personally identifiable or linked back to you individually.
  • E-mail Communications: We maintain a list of interested visitors who voluntarily provide their e-mail addresses and to whom we e-mail the monthly "MIT OpenCourseWare Update" e-mail newsletter, and other infrequent e-mail announcements pertaining to MIT OpenCourseWare.

 

What technology is used to publish the MIT OpenCourseWare Web site?

The MIT OpenCourseWare technology solution supports a complex publishing process. This large-scale digital publishing infrastructure consists of planning tools, a content management system (CMS), and the MIT OpenCourseWare content distribution infrastructure.

The planning tools used by the MIT OpenCourseWare team to assist faculty in publishing their course materials include a custom application of FileMaker Pro, and several checklists and documents. For creating and managing content, we use several desktop tools (file conversion tools) as well as the open-source CMS, Plone. Our content delivery infrastructure includes a sophisticated publishing engine, content staging server, and a content delivery network utilizing Akamai's EdgeSuite platform.

For more information on the MIT OpenCourseWare publishing environment or technology, please contact MIT OpenCourseWare.

 

How does OCW create video and audio lectures?

Video and audio production is one of the most expensive and time-consuming parts of the OCW production process.

To record lectures and other course material, we partner with an MIT media production group. Once this is complete, we review the video content to identify any third-party material (such as music or diagrams that appear in slides) and try to obtain permission from the owner to display the material. In some cases, this is impossible and we have to edit out these sections of the recording.

When each video is edited, we encode them into web-friendly formats, typically Real Media and MPEG4 (learn more about our audio and video file types).

Beginning in the spring of 2008, all audio and video on OCW is being submitted for transcription and subtitling. In this process, each video is carefully transcribed and reviewed by a subject matter expert to ensure accuracy. Transcriptions and subtitles will be made available for all of our video lectures in the coming years.

If you would like to support MIT OpenCourseWare's video production, please consider making a donation.

 

Why are most audio/video files only available in Real Media? What about open source formats?

MIT OpenCourseWare strives to make the free course materials on this site available to as many people around the world as possible. We use information such as industry trends, standard installation packages, and data provided by our traffic logs to determine which media and other file formats will be accessible by the most users.

When OCW began in 2002, the most widely available streaming media player was Real Media, and we developed our materials accordingly (streaming is important to us, as we believe low-bandwidth users should not be required to download an entire video file before viewing). Even in the short time since OCW's launch, the web media market has matured and now offers a wide range of options to users all over the world. Accordingly, we have begun to offer MPEG4 videos, and plan to introduce Flash soon. In the mean time, you can download many of our videos from iTunes (http://web.mit.edu/itunesu) and YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/mit).

As we create new video and audio files, we will continue to make them available in the variety of formats that seem best at the time; we will also try to retrofit our media as funding and resources allow.

 

Are these files available on iTunes or YouTube?

Yes. Many of our audio and video files are available on iTunes (http://web.mit.edu/itunesu), where you can download courses as "albums" to watch or listen to on your iPod. Many of our video files are available on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/mit).

 

Why can't I see equations in some courses?

Some of the courses now contain content presented using MathML. In order to view this content, you may need to install third-party fonts or plug-ins.

Firefox 3.x

Firefox users should install the STIX Beta fonts to display MathML content. Note that while Firefox will display some MathML content without these additional fonts, subtleties in the expressions may be missing or distorted.

Internet Explorer 7 and 8

Internet Explorer users should install the MathPlayer plugin to view MathML content.

Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, Netscape 4

These browsers do not currently support the display of MathML content. Please consider using one of the above browsers to view courses that contain MathML.